The fresh-faced victim of bloody violence in Crimea: Was 16 year old Mark murdered because he only spoke Ukrainian?
  • Mark Ivanyuk died of head injuries after an Easter disco [in Crimea]
  • His mother Tatyana, 34, said her son was on his way home with a friend
  • Claimed the officers were drunk and suspected police were involved
  • Youngster had been studying in Crimea to become a welder
PUBLISHED: 11:53 GMT, 25 April 2014  |  UPDATED: 15:39 GMT, 25 April 2014

Victim: Mark Ivanyuk, 16, was beaten to death on his way home from a disco [in Crimea]

A grieving mother has claimed that her 16 year old student son was beaten and killed by Russian policemen in Crimea — because he spoke Ukrainian.

Russian police have so far declined to comment on the case in which student Mark Ivanyuk died of head injuries after he was approached by officers following an Easter disco.

Mother Tatyana Ivanyuk, 34, said she is deeply disturbed by an alleged fight with police that occurred when her son and a friend called Kolya were returning home late at night.

"Kolya told me they were calm though a bit drunk.  It was foggy and they saw the policemen driving towards them," she said.

"The boys asked for a lift to Valenyevka.  The policemen refused them in a rough way."

Kolya told her he was then knocked out, and has no memory of what happened or of police leaving the scene.

"I came round, started to scream, and could not stand up.  Mark was lying next to me with a smashed head," he said.

"My Mark was all beaten — legs, arms, head.  I suspect it was the policemen," said Mrs Ivanyuk.

"I think it was because he began to talk to them in Ukrainian.  He spoke only Ukrainian, and I suspect this is the reason why the fight started.

"When I arrived at the police station to make my complaint they grimaced when they heard the Ukrainian language."

Crimea's new Russian law enforcement authorities "were mocking me speaking Ukrainian while writing down what had happened."

The mother has called for a full investigation into her son's death and posted an appeal for eyewitnesses, while also releasing a picture of her son's face from his coffin at his funeral.

She is backed by a group of human rights defenders in Crimea.

Devastating: Mark's mother described how his body was "beaten all over", accusing drunk police officers of the killing

Plea: The mother has called for a full investigation into her son's death and posted an appeal for eyewitnesses

The teenager is from the Ukrainian speaking city of Rivne in the west of the country.

He had been studying in Crimea to be a welder when the region was annexed by Russia last month.

In theory, after a promise by Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian remains an official language in Crimea alongside Russian, spoken by the vast majority, and Crimean Tatar.

Human rights activist Olexandra Dvoretska, from organisation Diya, said: "We are trying to find out the details of the incident and before we know them we cannot make any conclusions on the reasons of the violence.

"But I do not exclude language as a reason.  Speaking Ukrainian could have the escalated violence."

Many ethnic Ukrainians have now left the peninsula.

Neither the Russian Investigative Committee, which is handling the case, nor the police, have commented.

Memorial: Mark's mother Tatyana stands with her youngest son who is holding a photo of his brother at the funeral

Tragedy: Mark's body is covered in flowers and tributes during the service in Crimea

Ignored: Tatyana Ivanyuk, 34, said she when she visited the police station, she was mocked for speaking Ukrainian

Ukrainian TV coverage of Mark Ivanyuk killing is at

Mark Ivanyuk Beaten to Death in Crimea